Editor's Note: The Search for Social Justice
This year's Social Work Month theme is Leaders, Advocates, and Champions, celebrating the profession's pioneers in the search for social justice. The unique characteristic of the social work profession is the relentless examination of the underlying systemic and environmental challenges that contribute to client trauma. While other professions are also dedicated to relieving patient/client suffering, social work has, from its beginning, been dedicated to understanding and ameliorating the external forces that influence clients' well-being.
Perhaps there has been no other time in recent history when concerns for the achievement and protection of social justice have been so acute. We are in an atmosphere where social justice is in peril whether it is the well-being of children and families, economic equality, health care, human rights, or environmental safety. Social workers have been active in government, policy-making, community activism, and providing services to vulnerable populations for decades, but has there ever been a more acute need for them to advocate on behalf of their clients and continue to rise to that call?
This issue contains an informative piece by Frederic G. Reamer, PhD, ethicist, social work professor, and Social Work Today advisor and contributor, reflecting on the key figures who have defined that activism.
Also in this issue are features on telemental health, professional learning networks, and our cover story on predictive analytics in child welfare.
While not all child welfare workers are social workers, a significant number of social workers are in child welfare. We know that child welfare is an unusually challenging area in which to work, and movies and TV programs often misrepresent its workers as heartless, poorly trained, and incompetent, but the majority of child welfare workers are compassionate professionals who work tirelessly on behalf of children, adolescents, and families.
Their difficult job faces some barriers, but one of those relatively new resources with the potential to assist is predictive risk modeling, which can complement the individual judgment of child welfare professionals. Predictive analytics is not without risk itself, but it promises to help guide professionals to more informed decisions on which referrals require investigation and which do not.
On another note, I recently received an e-mail from a retired British social worker who wrote to share the good news that she has been awarded the MBE (The Most Excellent Order of the British Empire), an award of chivalry recognizing contributions to the arts and sciences and work with charitable and welfare organizations. How wonderful it is that Great Britain values the profession so highly that it has awarded a social worker this coveted honor.
Happy Social Work Month! Enjoy reading this issue!